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Thursday 13 November 2014

Hobart gets a new dining hot spot with a South American accent

It has been open for less than two weeks but Hobart's latest dining sensation, Frank, is packed to the rafters and rocking the town with South American-style dishes and a stylish global wine list. 

Kif Weber, one of the brains behind Smolt, and originally Launceston's Mud, says: "If we are going to have a go at this we are going to have a proper go." And this place with its modern decor and buzzing atmosphere has taken off in a hurry.

Frank is situated on Franklin Wharf, across the road from Fish Frenzy and T42, and is open seven days a week for both lunch and dinner. The better tables have water views, but it doesn't really matter where you sit. The vibe is the thing. 

Unlike many Hobart restaurants, Frank will keep its kitchen open until 11pm most nights, offering a rare late-night dining experience, but locals are just as welcome to pop in for a pre-dinner scallop empanada and a glass of refreshing torrontes. 

Frank aims to cater for a wide range of tastes; and on the evidence of our Wednesday night visit it is likely to please most of them. 

The service is friendly and slick, the waitrons make every effort to accurately describe unfamiliar dishes and the with early Led Zep on the sound system the place is cranking. Tables range from a well-known food reviewer for the national paper, a Hobart city alderman and his group of four and a family who look like infrequent diners out but are clearly having a ball. 

On the advice of the astute duo from we got there as soon as we could - and were told the place has been busy from day one. So make sure to book. 
The seafood ceviche is a standout
Asado - grilled meats - and Australian/South American fusion dishes are the go-to items here with their sweet, smoky flavours. 

Several of the dishes are designed to be shared, but we opted for traditional starters and mains. The prawn, scallop and white fish ceviche with "leche de tigre" - lime juice, fish juice and spices ($21) - was outstanding; a melt in the mouth experience. 

While a tad chewy, the grilled octopus with "causa, pebre salsa and coriander" ($20) was flavoursome and interesting. The Peruvian dish causa is apparently a cold mashed potato salad.

When it comes to mains, the focus is firmly on grass-fed Cape Grimm beef (and maybe soon some free-range, organically-raised Huon Valley beasts), using some of the lesser-known cuts that are much appreciated in Argentina and Uruguay. 
Rich, juicy beef cuts are a speciality

We opted for two rich cuts, a small hanger steak ($21.50) and a flat-iron steak ($27), each rich and textural and demanding some chewing action. Both were served with spicy chimichurri and salsa picante sauces. 

The crispy potatoes with salsa criolla ($8), proved a mighty accompaniment and while our charred vegetables, tomatillo and apple salsa with goat curd turned into a green salad, it didn't seem to matter that much. Frank is that sort of place - you just go with the flow. 

There is an an excellent wine, selection, too. Beers and cocktails as well; served with spiced mixed nuts that are dangerously moreish. 

There are the funky wines from producers like Jauma and Taras Ochota for those so inclined, but also an excellent selection of both Tasmanian and South American selections, along with options like Bowen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon for those looking for something more mainstream. 

Check out whites like the Don David 2013 Torrontes, or the Catena 2012 Chardonnay, both from Mendoza in Argentina, or a selection of malbecs and carmeneres from Argentina and Chile, or opt, maybe, for a Glaetzer-Dixon 2013 Mon Pere Shiraz. 

With so many great choices by the glass, we hardly bothered to look at the well-considered bottle list. 

Next time. And there definitely will be a next time. 

Frank, 1 Franklin Wharf, Hobart. (03) 6231 5005. 


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